Area of Law:
In the event of a divorce, if either spouse does not have a separate estate, or if a spouse's assets are not sufficient to offer a means of support, a judge might order alimony, which is also known as spousal support. Alimony is usually a monthly financial allowance paid by one spouse to another.
In Connecticut, an alimony award is based on a spouse’s continual need of support and may be made in addition to a property settlement award. Courts award alimony to either party regardless of gender, but there is no absolute right to alimony in Connecticut. For a complete guide to the laws regarding alimony in Connecticut, see Connecticut.gov.
To be eligible for alimony, spouses in all states, including Connecticut, must have been legally married. Alimony is usually based on a settlement agreement made between the spouses or the discretion of a judge. In Connecticut, alimony must be awarded at the final divorce hearing. If an alimony award is not included in the final judgment, neither spouse can return to court in the future and request alimony due to a change in circumstances. As a result, many final divorce judgments in Connecticut award $1 a year in alimony, because doing so preserves the right to revisit the alimony issue in the future if circumstances do change.
There are four types of alimony: lump-sum, rehabilitative, temporary, and permanent. Lump sum alimony is calculated by the court and is usually made in one payment. Temporary alimony may be paid for a specific amount of time, usually one or two years, to help one partner become financially independent and “get back on their feet.” Rehabilitative is the most commonly awarded type of alimony and may include payments for the education necessary for the recipient spouse to become self-sufficient. Permanent alimony is paid regularly for an indefinite period of time, or until the payee petitions the court to modify or discontinue the payments.
In Connecticut, alimony can be modified upon a showing of a substantial change of circumstances of either party. It is generally understood under common law that alimony ceases upon the remarriage of the recipient. Connecticut statutes specifically authorize the court to suspend, reduce, or terminate alimony whenever the party receiving it is living with another person under conditions in which the living arrangement causes a change in circumstances, altering the financial needs of that party. Connecticut courts have also upheld the right to enter an order for permanent alimony.
When awarding alimony, Connecticut courts may consider marital fault. The type and amount of alimony awarded in Connecticut depends on a variety of statutory factors, including the following:
- Length of the marriage
- Age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate and needs of each spouse
- The property settlement
- Whether the custodial parent should work
In the United States, alimony is treated differently tax wise from child support payments. In Connecticut, alimony is deductible for the person who pays it and taxable income for the person who receives it under the rules of the Internal Revenue Service, while child support is not.